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Norwegian Star Freestyle First

We have a soft spot for the Norwegian Star, the ship that as of Sunday is calling Tampa home. While we have trouble finding a cruise ship we don’t like, the Star was special.

It was several years ago. Okay, many. It was a cruise on the Mexican Riviera. For us, it was a first. Not our maiden cruise, not our first time to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.

Our “first freestyle.”

We loved the concept, and just like that Norwegian enhanced our attitude about cruising. For people who sometimes eat dinner at 4 p.m. and sometimes at 10 p.m., the rigidity of the traditional you-must-eat-dinner-at-this-time just doesn’t work.

It’s not that we won’t…just that, most times, we prefer having the option that Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising offered. Judging from what other cruise lines have since done to copy it, in one form or another, we are not alone.

So NCL’s Star, now sailing out of Tampa for the first time until next April, will always be “our Star.”

DAILY DEAL:
Norwegian Pride of America
7 nights
December 17, 2011
Honolulu (return), Maui, Hilo, Kona, Kauai
Inside $999 plus on-board credit
www.ncl.com

So What Happened to Falmouth?

In mid-February, you will undoubtedly remember reading our blog (of course you remember!) about Falmouth, Jamaica. Beset by labor problems, the opening of the new port was delayed and delayed and delayed. There were even questions whether it would open at all and, if it did, whether it would succeed.

Cruise ships were being re-routed to Montego Bay and Costa Maya, Mexico. When the first ship, Royal Caribbean’s Voyageurs of the Seas, finally arrived in February there were fears that the port would be a flop with tourists. Doom was a four-letter word everywhere. The cruise obituary for Falmouth was being researched, if not written.

Fast forward four and a half months.

Since March, Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas have been visiting Falmouth every week, each with their loads of 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew members. Up-to-date figures aren’t available, but from February through the end of April, Falmouth welcomed 100,000 passengers and 34,650 crew members. In May, there was a 41 per cent increase in cruise-ship passengers visiting Jamaica, compared to May 2010. Besides Falmouth and Montego Bay, Jamaica has ports at Ocho Rios and Port Antonio.

And guess what’s happening now?

The port of Ocho Rios is going to be upgraded.

A year ago, even the most optimistic Jamaicans would never have imagined this kind of win-win.

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